Children and Poverty: The Children's Defense Fund

Children and Poverty: The Children's Defense Fund
Hillary Clinton: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Two to three class periods


Standards Compliance
NCSS Strand 3
People, Places, and Environments
NCSS Strand 6
Power, Authority, and Governance
NCSS Strand 7
Production, Distribution, and Consumption
NCSS Strand 10
Civic Ideals and Practices
NCTE Standard 7
Students conduct research by generating ideas, questions, and problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data.
ISTE Standard 2
Social, ethical, and human issues
ISTE Standard 5
Technology research tools

Introduction:

After graduating from Yale Law School in 1973, Hillary Rodham went to Massachusetts to work with Marian Wright Edelman at the Children's Defense Fund, where she had served as an intern while in law school.  Her internship there both stimulated an interest in children's law, and gave her the experiences that lay the foundation for later research and publishing in this area.

Objectives:

Students who participate in this activity will have a chance to explore the world of children's poverty, and some of the programs that have attempted to help reduce it.  Students will then have an opportunity to explore information about their own community, comparing it with the national data on the CDF site.  They will also discover the original source of the phrase, "Leave No Child Behind."

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet. Access to information about local communities.

Procedures:

1.  One of the ways that the Children's Defense Fund galvanizes people to action is the provision of clear statistics on the lives of children in poverty.  Having looked briefly at the CDF website (below), begin the lesson by giving students a few of the statistics found there.

2.  Then, divide the class into five groups, assigning each group the task of compiling both statistical and programmatic information about poor children in five categories:

  • Child Health
  • Child Welfare and Mental Health
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Education and Youth Development
  • Family Income and Jobs

3.  When the groups have completed their research in these five areas, ask them to share what they have learned.  Why do they think Marian Wright Edelman named her organization the Children's Defense Fund?

4.  Then, they should select what they consider to be the most important information and set out to find the same kind of information about poor children in their own community.

5.  Students should compare local information with the national data on the CDF website, and come to some conclusions about the status of poor children in their localities.

6.  Engage students in a discussion of what steps might be taken to make things better in their own localities.

 

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson could be extended by inviting students to actually put into practice some of the ideas generated in their discussions of poverty in their communities.

Sources & Resources:

Websites:

The Children's Defense Fund

The CDF Mission

Marian Wright Edelman

 

Credits:

This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.